Dutch biotech firm signs largest deal with Johnson & Johnson

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Belgian-Dutch biotech company Galapagos has clinched a major agreement with American pharmaceutical firm Johnson & Johnson, the largest ever signed in the field of biotechnology in the Netherlands, Dutch media reported Thursday.

The deal could earn Galapagos some €1.6 billion ($2.29 billion) in the coming years. Onno van der Sole, chairman of the board of Galapagos, announced on Wednesday that Johnson & Johnson has secured the right to market the promising drugs for treating rheumatoid arthritis, which Galapagos is developing.

Johnson & Johnson will initially invest €17 million ($24.3 million) in the development of the medicine. Galapagos could receive option exercise fees and milestone payments of up to €68-73 million ($97-104.5 million), depending on the results. Galapagos will also develop a number of rheumatism programs internally, one of which is expected to be ready for testing on volunteers in 2008. Upon successful completion of clinical trials, Galapagos could be eligible to receive up to €430 million ($615.8 million) in development and regulatory milestone payments.

Johnson & Johnson could elect to exercise the option of marketing the medication in a licensing deal worth €60 million. If the project results in a registered medicine, Galapagos will also be awarded a percentage in royalties - between 15-20%, Van Sole said. (people.com.cn)

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